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Navigation

Navigation

Stick chart, Marshall Islands
Stick chart.
Marshall Islands.
600w x 600h x 20d mm.
Collection: Auckland Museum.

The Austronesians developed a range of navigational skills that proved extremely effective and enabled them to discover almost every island in the Pacific and to cross its entire width.

Navigation skills were taught only to specifically selected men. This knowledge was a closely guarded secret meaning that navigators had great prestige within communities since it was they alone who could guide them safely at sea.

The Austronesian navigators developed their own systems based on careful observation of stars, sea conditions, and wind and weather conditions.

Reference: Howe, KR (ed), Vaka Moana, Voyages of the Ancestors, Bateman, Auckland, 2006.